Gender

The Asian city was recently named top country for meeting UN health goals and has already achieved 4 of the 17 sustainable development goals. Here’s the story.

Singapore has already achieved 4 of the 17 sustainable development goals

The year is 2015. A coalition of countries, Singapore included, have adopted the UN Sustainable Development Goals and two years later 43 of them presented Voluntary National Reviews in which they committed to specific goals. Despite the regional and national commitments, many countries are still far from reaching the voluntary goals they set for 2030 but some are taking a straightforward path. Singapore is one of them.

According to the SDG Index and Dashboard Report, Singapore has already reached four out of the 17 SDGs (1, 7, 8 and 9), the highest number in all South and East Asia. The city-state is also closer than any other country to meeting health-related targets, according to a global health review published by The Lancet Medical Journal last September. Singapore is now placed at the 61st position out of 167 countries in the SDG Index.

Its Achilles’ heel is the import of emissions, including nitrogen and carbon dioxide, which is common in small countries due to their need to import and trade goods. In order to improve this scenario, Singapore should whether diversify its economy or set trade policies so the imported goods would be more sustainable.

As for the other SDGs, Singapore is clearly investing in reducing gender inequalities, promoting education and strengthening institutions. The literacy rate has now reached 99,9% and the rate of female labor participation in the workforce is over 76%. The quality of institutions and the safety of the population is one of the highest in the world.

The evolution is ongoing. The city is making an effort to host more events related to the SDGs, such as the Unleash Innovation Lab, next May, and the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum, SIGEF 2018, Horyou’s main SDGs event, next September. In addition to bringing diversity and innovation, the events help the city to become known as an SDG-friendly place and a hub for ideas and actions to attain the goals.

Half of the world’s population lives on USD 2 a day or less. The 8th UN Sustainable Development Goal promotes decent work for all.

Photo: UNDP

Robots taking humans jobs in Europe, a slave market in Libya, child labor in Brazil, youth unemployment in Spain…our society is globally affected by job insecurity and vulnerability. While the global unemployment rate stands at 5.7 per cent, having a job doesn’t guarantee decent conditions and earnings. Young women are the most vulnerable group, with a larger chance to be neither in employment nor in education.

This situation affects the global political and economic stability – labor productivity has been slowing down since 2010, which represents a negative living standard and real wages progress worldwide. Indirectly, it will affect human impact on the environment, education levels, violence, and migration. It’s all connected.

Yet, there are good news. Despite remaining a huge concern, the number of working children has declined from 246 million in 2000 to 168 million in 2012, and it’s even better for girls with a 40% decline versus 25% for boys.

According to the UNDP, better labor conditions require access to financial services and aid for trade. The former has increased by 55 per cent in the last five years, while investment in trade-related infrastructure, banking and agriculture has reached USD 53.9 billion in 2015. Trust funds for the least developed countries are also running their second phase now up to 2022.

In addition to the work of governments and transnational institutions, the creation of quality jobs still remains one of the biggest challenges for all economies. Many organizations are working to qualify people and provide them with skills and access to better jobs.

One of Horyou’s active organizations devoted to the SDG 8 is Association Flamme de la Gloire. Based in Morocco, it provides support and social services to vulnerable communities. Through workshops and internships, it helps to improve the quality of access to work. It is focused on the development of tourism and cultural activities, as well as agricultural cooperatives within the country, constantly concerned with the sustainable aspects of these activities.

In Brazil, NOUS Educare provides educational development programs to strengthen human potential, based on anthroposophy. Through workshops, lectures and activities, it helps its participants to gain confidence, strength and skills to face the new labor scenario which is unfolding for all workers.

If you wish to support this SDG, you can do so through Horyou. Go to Horyou platform and choose an NGO or project that helps promote decent work and economic growth in your region or anywhere in the world. Your support can be made easier and more effective with Spotlight, our digital currency for impact. Check it out and start using it to engage in any cause you feel concerned about. Be the change, be Horyou!

On the 25th of November, we celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. As part of its support of the cause, Horyou interviewed Juncal Plazaola Castaño, UN Women Specialist on Ending Violence Against Women.

Orange the world is a UN Women Campaign for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

What is UN Women’s approach to the elimination of violence against women?

We focus on four areas of work. The first of them is to work with partners, governments, civil society and stakeholders to revise or approve legislations and policies that meet international standards. It does not only regard violence but also equality and opportunities issues, like divorce and custody. We also work to improve services provided to women, namely legal, social, police and security services. Another area is prevention of sexism, men privilege and men dominance. We do that through women empowerment and by promoting more positive masculinity. The fourth pillar is about evidence and data. In order to know the magnitude of the problem and make governments and actors aware of it, we need to collect evidence. We do this with our partners, mostly academic.

Have you scored any recent progress in these areas?

In the area of legislation, UN women was an important actor on defining legal age of marriage in Malawi and some places in the Caribbean, focusing on preventing child marriage. We also helped to implement Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces, a program that aims to address sexual harassment. We are working with 27 cities in developing and developed countries, like in Winnipeg, Canada. The city has very high sexual harassment rates, especially with indigenous women and we involved with indigenous organizations to understand the scope of the problem and to set new public transportation initiatives. In Quito, Equador, we were partners of the municipal observatory of violence, which includes violence against women, too. They have a municipal budget allocation to the program, which shows great ownership and sustainability.

What is UN Women biggest challenge on eliminating violence against women?

One of them is accountability of perpetrators. It requires involvement of other actors and all of the pillars I mentioned before. If no legislation is involved, for example, the violence will continue as the perpetrators will think there is no penalty or consequence. We also need to address stereotypes, men dominance, men privilege and other social norms. Another big challenge is to reach those there are left behind, women who are exposed for their condition as women with disabilities, from ethnic minorities, lesbians, bisexuals, or women who are very young or older who experiment different types of violence. The last challenge I will mention is monitoring impact. We expect something to be achieved in 3 or 4 years, some change of social norms and attitude. I think we need to find the impact the work we are doing in a more realistic way.

Orange the world campaign. Photo: UN Women

Can we be hopeful that one day we will eliminate gender violence?

I am hopeful and I have observed some recent signs that gave me even more hope. One of them is the #metoo campaign. It shows the power of women’s voices and how to reach a momentum as the topic is not being hidden anymore. The campaign calls for accountability of perpetrators. And they are actually being called. It also shows that women are exposed not only related to domestic violence and women mutilation, but also to sexual and verbal harassment, rape and many other aspects. The other sign of hope is agenda 2030. The SDG set one specific goal for women, but there are also other hidden goals in the agenda. For instance, SDG goals dedicated to achieving inclusive and sustainable cities. It recognizes the centrality of equality, and how relevant it is for the international community.

What is the role of social media in UN Women campaigns?

The Internet and social media have a strong power to shape the ways we think. They are enablers of women empowerment. Social media gives voice to women and features stories of positive empowerment. It’s a very powerful tool for shaping stereotypes and the way we think and act, and a way to condemn discrimination. It creates a sense of community.

What does the color orange mean on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women?

From the 25th of November, we are ‘oranging’ the world for 16 days as part of the campaign. The color orange is a symbol of bright and optimistic future. The idea is to make social media to initiate a discussion about this future we want to have.

Emma Watson
Actress Emma Watson making a speech about her “He For She” campaign with UN Women

What would you do if you weren’t afraid? This is one of the opening lines in “Lean In,” the debut book from well known gender equality advocate Sheryl Sandberg.

Ms Sandberg has gained a lot of traction over the last few years as a champion for helping women to “lean in” in the workplace. Awareness and advocacy for gender equality has always been a women’s movement, but Sheryl and many feminists like her (including men) are changing the dynamic.

In business, a goal without a plan is just a wish. In the campaign for gender neutrality, real goals are being identified at national and international levels and importantly, real plans are being formulated and put into action.

At international level, women and girls are now high on the agenda, as set out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to transform our world.

At national level, many companies have introduced quotas of the number of women they want to have in senior positions. This is positive and proactive, however a point was made this year on a gender equality panel at the World Economic Forum.

PM Trudeau
Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, discussing gender parity

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada and leader of the first ever gender balanced cabinet said that his reasoning in appointing both men and women wasn’t anything to do with “what is right” or “what society will be responsive to.” He said that he would get better decision making and better governance from a group that reflects the diversity in the population he is serving.

This is a turning point. It not only shows action at government level which will most likely trickle down to corporate and civil society but it also realizes that the divide shouldn’t be men and women, appointments should be made on merit, regardless of gender or role.

Prime Minister Trudeau went further in saying that legislation is the easy option. “We need a cultural revolution towards gender parity,” making the point that mind sets can be harder to shift.

Sheryl Sandberg echoed this sentiment and said that this cultural revolution begins at home, with children being treated equally when it comes to chores and pocket money and even with the parents themselves, taking an equal share of responsibilities.

panel
The panel discussing a cultural revolution towards diversity in the workplace

The discussion of gender quality on the world stage is important, however UN Women and passionate gender equality advocate Emma Watson are putting words into action with an international campaign #HeForShe.

He For She is about uniting men and women in the fight against inequality. This campaign is unique in that it brings men into the conversation and encourages them to be part of the solution.There has already been 2.5 million tweets connected to the #HeForShe thread. This is expected to increase as He For She 10 x 10 x 10 rolls out across the world,an initiative in which leaders can adopt a framework and commit to gender equality in their workplace.

It seems that gender equality is now finally part of the conversation, from the world stage down to the kitchen table. No country in the world has ever achieved parity between men and women but as the philosopher Ed Burke once said “All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph, is for good men and women to do nothing.”

In the interests of diversity and achieving the greatest good for society, Horyou stands in solidarity with this campaign and every person on the road to achieving equality for men and women.

By Dearbhla Gavin

More Stories

Una referencia en arte urbano en Barcelona, Nau Bostik tiene una historia que remite al pasado industrial de la ciudad – la nave abandonada...